Alley cats, we’d find sun in Jackson Square to sleep in, amidst myriads of street performers, musicians, artists and tarot card readers. Upon waking from our nap, with darkness approaching and stomachs grumbling we’d leave decisions to be discerned by gut and liver in what we’d eat and drink. Our organs, acumens were lured to the lovely Frenchmen St. to one of my most desired places to eat on this earth, Yuki Izakaya. Beyond the jazz musician and crowded entrance there’d be a miracle table free for us to eat off of. Izakaya, means stay sake shop; late night drinking houses that also serve light fare as accompaniments. While so hungry, I was tempted to order a large bowl of ramen that I could just dunk my head into, a cavernous bowl to swim around in, but we’d familiarize ourselves with the menu and gravitate towards the snow crab shumai, kimchi, veggie spring rolls and the crazy sensuous white fish cakes with yam and lemon butter. While sipping our Green Lagoons of pineapple juice, rum, sake and green tea we’d admire the dimly lit ambiance, the whirling jazz and the art on the walls. Hara hachi bu, we’d eat until our bellies were 80 percent full. Besides, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if we’d have to eat again throughout the evening.
We’d wander down Frenchmen St. drawn into the nighttime art market where I’d spot my second pond of Jeremy Novy’s graffiti koi fish in New Orleans; One of my favorite sights to collect while travelling in the States. The striking contrast of something so serene; koi fish swimming along city sidewalks juxtaposes the at times dissonant urban landscape, but again that’s the dually natured pisces speaking, always pushing boundaries. Drawn into different bars, different situations; rap and pop music in the club Blue Nile, blues and jazz in the Spotted Cat, folk in the Apple Barrel, your bodily rhythm is reset a thousand times. Enjoying myself immensely at the Apple Barrel, we’d be distracted by this, while seemingly fun, mischievous man, a Pan figure who’d provoke us to join him in going to Big Daddys, a place he’d been raving about as far as experiencing local culture goes.
Venturing to this illusive place, 4, 5, 6 blocks away, other people we’d been hanging out with, a couple I’d played matchmaker for and cute and celebrating bachelors disembarked on the trek. I’d grow impatient with his charades and my wine stained lips, well, whined, “Where the hell are you taking us??” Ofcourse this portal of a place appeared and after being lead down the weirdest road why would we have expected anything other than the strangest place ever. This bar was post apocalyptic, drawing a derelict crowd , dressed in their best Water World crossed with Tank Girl styles. Oh and men in skimpy fairy costumes. I swear they ate the quarters my friend put down to play pool. We’d order bottled beer fearful of becoming imbibed by this bizarre. Soon we’d look at each other with wide eyes and blow this peculiar popsicle stand. An artist on the street gave me a painting expressing a likeness and when I saw it, I knew we’d been transformed by the evening. We’d curl up and sleep in my car.
I don’t feel we put ourselves in danger, however precarious that last experience might have seemed. There are multitudes of mystery and such elements of darkness and experiences existing only within the shadows to be enraptured by in New Orleans. Spiritually speaking, there’s a pervasiveness of death equal to living. As paradoxical as it may seem, “ If earth needs night as well as day, wouldn’t it follow that the soul requires endarkenment to balance enlightenment?” ~Jitterbug Perfume. In a place that’s encountered such struggle, there’s a brilliant resilience which I admire immensely. Aldous Huxley, communicated it wisely, “This sense that in spite of everything which of course is the ultimate, I suppose, the ultimate mystical conviction that in spite of pain, in spite of death, in spite of horror, the Universe is in some mysterious sense all right. ” This resonates so deeply while in New Orleans; I have the realization that I am alone and alright, better than alright, I’m alive to explore such beauty and enigmatic experiences.